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Manager Nigel Worthington insists York City better equipped and now more of a match
NIGEL Worthington believes York City are better equipped to take on AFC Wimbledon than they were when they tackled tomorrow’s opponents during his first game in charge of the Minstermen.
The City boss kicked off his City reign six months ago with a 3-2 defeat in South London and, in four games between the two clubs last term, the Dons prevailed on three occasions and also forced a replay in an FA Cup tie at Bootham Crescent.
But Worthington now reckons the team can match the robust approach of Neal Ardley’s men, who only secured their Football League status on the final day of last season.
Since the teams met at Kingsmeadow in March, six members of Worthington’s first starting line-up – Paddy McLaughlin, Scott Kerr, John McGrath, Matty Blair, Michael Rankine and Jack O’Connell – have gone on to leave the club.
In fact, only five members of the matchday squad back then – Michael Ingham, Chris Smith, Ashley Chambers, Dan Parslow and Jamal Fyfield -– remain on City’s books.
On proving a tougher proposition for the club’s biggest 2012/13 nemesis, Worthington said: “We have got bigger players now but you have to use that physical strength otherwise it’s a waste of time having them. They are quite a big side who are aggressive in their approach and we know what we will be getting.
“They will come and give 100 per cent commitment like we ask for every week from our own players, so we have got to be strong physically and mentally and deal with that side of the game, then do what we can do, which is pass the ball and shift it around as well as we can.”
Along with the banned Ryan Bowman, who will serve the second game of his three-match suspension, injured trio David McGurk (hamstring), Richard Cresswell (eye) and Wes Fletcher (ankle) remain unavailable.
Sander Puri could play a part, however, after Worthington and Estonian national manager Tarmo Ruutli agreed that he would miss his country’s World Cup qualifier against Holland tonight. He will fly out for Tuesday’s international in Hungary if he proves his fitness at the weekend following four matches on the sidelines due to a hamstring injury.
On Puri’s situation, former Northern Ireland boss Worthington said: “You cannot stop a player joining up with his country when it comes to qualifying games. The club has no right over the player and his country holds all the aces but common sense has prevailed.
“I spoke to the player and Sander spoke to his international manager and it was agreed that he needed to do something here to be fair to York City and, hopefully, if he comes through tomorrow, he will then be freed up to go and join Estonia.
“Everybody is working together to ensure Sander stays fit and he looks in good shape.”
Second-year apprentice striker Tom Chamberlain, meanwhile, will stay in City’s matchday squad after making his senior debut as a second-half substitute during last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Exeter.
“Tom will be part of the group again,” Worthington confirmed. “He’s looked lively, bright and fresh since last weekend and has a smile on his face.
“When you get involved with the first team at his age, it’s exciting and it also serves as an example for the other youngsters in terms of the opportunity you could get if you do well, then hold your nerve when the chance comes.
“Norman Whiteside played in the World Cup finals at the age of 17 and Wayne Rooney scored for Everton against Arsenal in the Premier League at 16 so age doesn’t mean a lot. It’s more about the physical and mental side of things and where you want to get to and how quickly you want to get there.”
Having seen his side lose four and draw one of their last five matches, the City chief also called on supporters to keep the faith, ahead of back-to-back home games with Wimbledon and Mansfield seven days later.
“We have got to be patient,” he said. “Everybody wants to win games yesterday and nobody more so than myself and the players but we are on track and not far away.
“It’s about the little pieces making the big picture. We’ve got to tidy up on those little things – like being more ruthless at both ends of the pitch – then go on a little run because, at this stage, four or five points would take us into the top half of the table.”
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